Friday, July 13, 2012

Adding Bokeh to a Photo using Picmonkey

Hello friends.  It's Friday yet again and I'm looking forward to the weekend.  We have nothing planned and that is exactly what we hope to do...;)

Today I wanted to show you a super easy and fun way to add a little interest to your photos by creating the illusion of bokeh.  I use the word 'illusion' because true bokeh is not easily obtained and does not happen automatically in lens design.  In fact, a true and perfect bokeh effect would be categorized by an out focus shape with the concentration of light in the centre as opposed to the bokeh rendered by camera lens which are circles with sharp edges.  The word bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (bo-keh) which means fuzzy or dizziness.  As I've said before, I'm by no means a professional photographer and don't claim to know the rules of photography so in layman's terms, this tutorial will show you how to create 'faux bokeh' on your photos. 

Let's get started....

1) Upload photo onto Picmonkey
2) Adjust picture as you would normally by changing the brightness or adding shadows etc.
3) Once you are satisfied with your editing, go to 'Overlays'
4) Click on 'Geometric' and pick the circular shape (note- you are not limited to this shape as there are various ways to create real bokeh with your camera using various shapes)

Here is a great tutorial to check out. 
The default colour is always black. Change it to white by moving the cursor on the color overlay window all the way up to the top. At this point you can always alter the size of your circle as you wish.

Slowly fade the shape so you can see through the circle. Continue playing with the transparancy until you are satified with it.

Right click on the circle and choose 'Duplicate Overlay'; this will make an exact replica of your shape.
 Continue to duplicate the shape and changing its size and colour as you wish...

Once you're satisfied with the amount and look of your bokeh, go to 'Textures' and click on 'Weave'

Notice this texture looks like streams of light shining down onto your photo.  Go to blend modes and choose 'screen' so you can fade the screen to your liking.

Mine was faded to 80%, but play
around with it until you are satisfied.

And when you are done, it should look something like this...

 Or if you want it a little more dramatic...

I played with various effects (this one is dusk faded to 83%) and also adjusted the light with the dodge feature which allows you to play with light and dark areas individually.  I 'dodged' some of the darker areas on the left by adding light. 

Here is another photo using the same technique
but using a more prominent blue shade for the shape...

I think the key is to overlap and play with the shading
of the circles until you reach the effect you like. 

 I don't use this effect very often but I think
it's a great way to add interest to your photos.

It is especially stunning in night time photos such as this one. 

Here are some other pretty photos to get you inspired...

Well friends, what do you think? Easy, right?  I hope you found this tutorial interesting enough to give it a go...:)

much love,


  1. Lucy, this is brilliant. I use PicMonkey and I've used the shapes but never thought about faux bokeh! Love it.

  2. I love PicMonkey!! (I hope they don't start charging any time soon.) I"m a complete beginner with editing pictures, but it's still fun! Thanks for the step by step!

  3. Such a great idea! I love it!

  4. Thank you for the tutorial -i'm trying pickmonkey- it's great.

  5. Thanks so much! Off to try it out.

  6. Great tutorial! I love PickMonkey but I've never thought I can do something like this! Thanks for your tutorial!

  7. Wonderful tutorial. I use Picmonkey often so will be playing with this option... :-)))

  8. what a fun project - thanks for the playtime inspiration - off to pic monkey I go!

  9. That's awesome! I'm so excited to go try it!!

  10. Love this Lucy and am excited to try it! It's so cool that you did it in Picmonkey, since that is the photo editor I use most often!!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together for us!!
    Have a great weekend!

  11. I just tried this following your tutorial, and using some of the other effects, and I love the way it turned out! I usually use Paint Shop Pro to work my photos, but Picmonkey was actually pretty easy to work with.
    Thanks for the tutorial,
    Debbie :)

  12. amazing!! nice idea thanks a lot i loved it basically becoz i love photography and editing!!!

  13. Very Interesting, thanks for your tutorial,.. Iv'e been longing to find some sites how to add Bokeh with the pictures I edit,.. :D Thank you so much,.. :)

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  15. This is really great!!! I also do a lot of editing in picmonkey but I've never thought of making my own bokeh shapes! Woooow! Thanks for the tutorial! Helllppsss a lot! :D

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